By Gabrielle Merchen, contributor
Andy Murray’s path to musical greatness started in sixth grade when a talented high school tuba player (son of former band director, Pat Purdy) performed for his class.
“Mr. Purdy’s son Alex came to play, and I almost cried when I heard him. He was so good, and he was just in high school at the time. He reached my heart with his playing,” Murray said.
Murray decided right then that he wanted to reach people that same way.
As a junior at Yukon High School, Murray’s talents have reached and exceeded his original aspirations; he has been officially recognized as the best high school Tuba player in the state of Oklahoma, earning the coveted position of first chair Tuba in Oklahoma’s All State Honor band. His position as first chair of the all state Wind Symphony is the pinnacle of a long line of state and regional honors for Murray. He has participated in Central Oklahoma Director’s Association (CODA) honor band every year since seventh grade, won a featured soloist award, is a current member of Oklahoma Youth Winds and Oklahoma Youth Philharmonic, and he is on his way to becoming a three-year all state member.
In the fall, Murray also serves as section leader of the sousaphones in the Pride of Yukon marching band and plays bass trombone for the school’s jazz band. From November until May, he is first chair in the Wind Ensemble at Yukon High School under the direction of head band director, Darnell Zook.
Zook has high praise for Murray’s work ethic.
“To be selected as a member of the Oklahoma All-State band is a huge honor. To get first chair, especially as a junior, is about as impressive as it gets,” Zook said. “Sometimes people will hear a successful musician and talk about how talented they are. The truth is that while [Murray] is very talented, his success comes from the many hours of hard work he has put in to make the most of his natural abilities.”
Murray is no stranger to hard work and practices every spare moment, which is no small task when your instrument is difficult to fit through a doorway, though he never tires of it.
“I love how many different ways you can interpret something. You can make something your own no matter how many people have done it. There’s always something new you can do, and it’s never going to get old,” Murray said.
He has a special affinity for his tuba—which isn’t a rental like most high school students play. Rather, it is a finely tuned machine that he and his family traveled across the country to purchase.
“It’s a miraphone 188 tuba that my mother, brother and I drove all the way to New Jersey and back to get,” he said.
Murray sites Alex Purdy and Ryan Robinson as his biggest musical inspirations.
“Alex Purdy got me started and made me realize that tuba can be a really beautiful instrument no matter how many ‘oompas’ you play, and Ryan Robinson makes everything seem effortless even though it’s really difficult. Because he makes me think it’s easy, it’s easier for me to practice it and improve,” Murray said.
When asked how he deals with the pressure of performing in front of large audiences and professional auditions, Murray said he doesn’t think he’ll ever conquer that fear—and he doesn’t particularly want to.
“I never really got over the nerves; I just learned to use fear as motivation. That’s why I’m good—because I’m terrified,” Murray said.
After high school, Murray said he hopes to use this unique combination of hard work, abject terror, and his miraphone 188 to continue making beautiful music at the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University.